Anxiety and College: How to Navigate Your Mental Health Needs

Sep 08, 2023
 Anxiety and College: How to Navigate Your Mental Health Needs
Are you feeling overwhelmed in college? You're not alone. Many students struggle with anxiety, especially in such a high-pressure environment. In this article, learn how to identify and manage anxiety while in school.

The college experience is often painted as the "best years of your life," filled with new friendships, enlightening courses, and the excitement of independence. 

While all of this is true, the reality for many students includes a struggle with anxiety and other mental health concerns. It's a stark contrast that can catch you off guard if you're unprepared. 

According to a 2019 report by the American College Health Association, almost 60% of college students said they had experienced "overwhelming anxiety" in the past year. 

At Open Door Wellness Center in Great Falls, Montana, we recognize how overwhelming anxiety can be and offer specialized, faith-based counseling to help you manage and mitigate its effects. 

In this article, we help you understand how to recognize anxiety and learn what you can do about it. 

Understanding anxiety

It's crucial to understand that anxiety isn't just a heightened form of stress; it's a mental health condition that requires attention and care. Common symptoms are:

  • Physical symptoms: such as heart palpitations, sweating, and shakiness
  • Cognitive effects: includes negative thinking and excessive worry
  • Behavioral consequences: such as avoidance of triggering situations or procrastination
  • Emotional responses: feelings of dread, fear, or being overwhelmed

Understanding the nature of anxiety can help you determine when what you're feeling exceeds typical stress and becomes a mental health concern.

Why college students are especially vulnerable

College students face various stressors that make them especially susceptible to anxiety. These include

  • Academic expectations: with grades and future career prospects on the line, the pressure to perform can be crushing
  • Social pressures: the need to fit in, find your 'tribe,' and navigate complex social dynamics can be paralyzing for some people
  • Financial strain: scholarships, loans, and the looming prospect of debt can cast a shadow over your college experience
  • Adulthood and independence: for many, college is the first experience of living away from home, and the newfound freedom can be both liberating and intimidating

Understanding these pressures can help you take proactive measures to ease their impact on your mental health.

Strategies for managing anxiety

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, here are practical ways to help you manage the condition:

Organizational skills

A structured daily routine can help you feel more in control. Use digital tools and planners to keep track of assignments and deadlines. Create a realistic schedule and stick to it. Don't forget to make time for relaxation and self-care.

Physical exercise

Regular exercise is not just good for your body, it's also good for your mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins, which naturally elevate your mood and lower your stress levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

Mindfulness techniques

Practices such as mindfulness and meditation can teach you to be present in the moment, helping to alleviate anxiety symptoms. You can practice simple techniques, like focused breathing anywhere and anytime.

Faith-based counseling

If faith is a significant part of your life, it can also be a pillar of strength in managing anxiety. At Open Door Wellness Center, we offer faith-based counseling to help integrate your spiritual and mental health needs.

Self-help strategies are beneficial, but professional guidance often becomes necessary, especially when anxiety interferes with your daily functioning. Counseling services, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and sometimes medication can be valuable additions to your coping toolbox.

Anxiety in college is common, yet it’s often overlooked or misinterpreted as mere stress. Early identification and effective management are critical to ensuring that anxiety doesn't derail your educational and personal growth.

Our team specializes in treating anxiety from a faith-based perspective, offering both mental and spiritual guidance to help you navigate anxiety. 

By acknowledging the challenges of anxiety and actively taking steps toward managing your mental well-being, you can not only survive but also thrive in your college years. Make your mental health a priority, and book an appointment with us online today. You can also call 406-781-4414.